2009-01-15 / Scene

Wine — from all 50 states

Dave Ethridge info@viewnewspapers.net

It seems that almost all the wines made in the U.S. come from California and a goodly share of them do. But now since the explosion in wine consumption over the past 10 years, wine is being produced in every one of the 50 states. Michigan, New York, Oregon and Washington have long been known as wine producing states, but what about Nebraska, Wyoming, Arizona, or even Alabama?

The last state to join the list of wine producing states was North Dakota, where the Pointe of View Winery in the little town of Burlington was founded in 2002 and began making Rhubarb wine and a red hybrid grape variety known as Valiant.

The first question that comes to mind when thinking about wines from Montana, or Nevada, or Vermont, or elsewhere is — is the wine any good? To partly answer that question, a group of wine enthusiasts, some of whom worked for Time magazine, set about to collect a bottle of wine from every state then have a huge wine tasting to see what was being produced and to rate them from excellent to undrinkable. They were surprised at the diversity, loved the Michigan Riesling, and wondered at the East Coast red Chambourcin, Midwest’s Norton, and an inky Marechal Foch from Pennsylvania. The results were 11 excellent wines from the usual states of California, Oregon, Washington, New York, Michigan and Texas. But also added were a Pinot Grigio from Delaware, a white blend from Kentucky, a Muscat from New Hampshire, a Cabernet from Colorado and a Chardonnay from North Carolina. A total of 21 others were rated good, and 12 drew bad ratings with the undrinkables (6) coming from Wyoming, North Dakota, Indiana, Geor-gia, South Carolina and Massachusetts. All of this was reported in the September 8, 2008, issue of Time.

I would have to agree with their conclusions about the wines from South Carolina and Massachusetts — the ones I’ve tasted left much to be desired. But, I’ve had some rather nice wines from Indiana and Georgia, so it all boils down to both your individual taste and the single bottle selected to be included in the tasting. Haven’t had the opportunity yet to try wines from North Dakota or Wyoming, but I hope to include those in my tasting notes sometime soon.

All of this got me to thinking about the various wines from all those other states, and I wonder just how many states I had included in my wine notes over the years. I don’t keep a running tally of all the wines I’ve tasted, but as I ran over the list of wineries from each state (an excellent website, www.weekendwinery.com, lists every winery in every state), I tried to remember those wines I had sampled. The list of those states from which I had not yet sampled was longer than I had expected, which means that I have a lot of work to do before I can issue a commentary on the wines of all 50 states. But, it’s research like this that makes my job interesting.

So, if you happen to be traveling in any of these states and chance upon a winery, think of me and bring me back a bottle or two. You’ll be aiding in my research. The number listed after the state is the number of wineries currently listed on the website: North Dakota (2), New Hampshire (6), Alabama (7), Alaska (3), Louisiana (6), Minnesota (16), Delaware (2), Montana (2), Nevada (2), Arizona (16), Oklahoma (40), South Carolina (9), Utah (5), West Virginia (13) and Wyoming (1). The bottle pictured in this column is a recent acquisition from a nine-year-old winery in Altus, Arkansas; a late harvest Cabernet Franc called Dragonfly Red from Chateau Aux Arc that a friend brought back from a visit there. Love the label, haven’t tried the wine yet. Once my sampling is complete, we’ll do a follow-up and let you know what the favorites are.

Dave Ethridge is a nationally known wine writer, certified wine judge, and the Director of the Lapeer Chapter of Tasters Guild International.

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